Summer 2004

GW Launches Innovative Arabic Studies Program

In response to the increasing need for fluent Arabic speakers in both public and private circles, the GW Classics Department and the University Honors Program have launched an innovative summer Arabic studies program for honors students. The Margaret and Edward Gnehm Summer Honors Program in Arabic Language Studies provides a full-tuition summer grant for a special 12-week, eight-credit course allowing 31 students selected from a pool of 57 candidates the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the language. The students will continue their Arabic studies in the fall term.

Students who competed for the program wrote an essay explaining why they feel the study of Arabic is significant.

“It says a lot about the academic commitment of these students that they are willing to stay in Washington and attend classes over the summer break,” said David Rowley, deputy director of the honors program.

The program is a direct response to America’s need for Arabic-speaking citizens in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Although college enrollment in Arabic nearly doubled between 1998 and 2002, study of the language in the US is still relatively modest.

“With this program GW steps up to serve our country and the international community in a positive way,” said GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. “Educating our students to facilitate communication with the Arab world is one way that GW can be part of the solution to the global challenges of our times.”

The program was formed through the inspiration and support of Ambassador and Mrs. Gnehm. Ambassador Gnehm is a former member of the GW Board of Trustees and a US Ambassador to Jordan, Kuwait and Australia who raised the American flag over the US embassy after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. He recently was named the 2004-05 J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs.

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